Central of Ga. train wreck Columbus Ga. 1963+-

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when I was in the second grade, my class took a field trip to columbus. upon entering town, the train was struck in the rear by a runaway cement car causing derailment. I am trying to recover info and photos of that accident.

-- William Herring (a1fishtag@earthlink.net), July 29, 2002



I checked the Online Digital Special Collections on the Department of Transportation. The only accident that showed up was a yard engine with a bus in 1942.

http://specialcollections.tasc.dot.gov/scripts/ws.dll? login&site=dot_railroads

(^^ Must make it one line)

I know the DB has some omissions because I have searched for details of a derailment at Sylacauga, Walco Siding, in 1958 that my grandfather photographed, but there were no hits returned. Too bad these accidents are no listed, because the accident reports I have read are quite detailed.

However, in my case I have been able to interview several witnesses, including my grandfather before he died and some retired CofGa personnel, and I have a good idea what happened.

(Which was: Someone failed to realign the switch after working Walco during the night. The next train through was a westbound, which diverged and put a couple of GP7's on the ground. One turned over, but luckily the speed through Sylacauga is low enough that there were no fatalities, just a broken arm.

Also, it motivated my grandfather to shoot the Central. This is one of his few railroad shots. He was a great photographer and his workshop was a block from the Bham-Cbus line. And the switch engine worked Avondale Mills daily. And the IC passenger trains stopped about a mile away at the depot. :^( )

Sincerely, Ron. Wright

-- Ron. Wright (rondywright@hotmail.com), July 29, 2002.


Thanks for the information.

My photos of this derailment are dated 1958, so I guess the film was not processed until after the first of the year. They probably finished up the roll at Christmas :^).

The "pusher" in the report was The Sylacauga Pusher, a switching job that was named after a helper used on eastbound moves up Trammells during the days of steam.


-- Ron. Wright (ron@cofg.org), July 30, 2002.


Here's information on the Sylacauga derailment:

At 6:05 AM on December 14, 1957, train No. 75, with engines 166, 168, 160, 113, in charge of Conductor A.H. Nickerson and Engineer C. Morgan, consisting of 18 loads and 75 empties, derailed 4 engines and 2 cars, also 4 cars standing in siding at Walco Spur, Sylacauga, Ala. This accident was caused by train No. 75 entering open switch to side track and colliding with 28 cars in this spur. Investigation with the pusher crew developed that the conductor, brakeman, engineer, and fireman violated transportation rules 104, 104(a), and 104(5) in leaving main line switch open and were dismissed from service. No disciplinary action was taken against flagman as he was at depot performing other duties. Investigation with train crew of No. 75 developed that the engineer, fireman, and brakeman violated transportation rules 93 and 509(a) and were dismissed from the service. The conductor was not on the train at the time it passed the red board, but caught up on the second unit after the train had passed governing signal, and his efficiency record was assessed 30 demerits for not conferring with engineer. The flagman was on rear of train and had no knowledge of the indication given by the signal, and no discipline was applied against his record. There was one reportable injury. Damage and expense as follows: Equipment $40,150.00 Track $1,330.25 Signals $239.98 Clearing $4,766.85 Total - $46,487.08

(From CofGa Monthly Report, December 1957)

Allen Tuten

-- Allen Tuten (allen@cofg.org), July 29, 2002.


I think this is the wreck that you're looking for:

At 1:30 PM, March 9, 1962, covered hopper (SAL 7334), loaded with cement, struck automobile at Third Avenue crossing and continued down track until it collided with the rear end of train No. 20, consisting of 8 cars, at 17th Street and First Avenue, Columbus, Ga. The driver of the automobile was seriously injured and there were numerous minor injuries to passengers on Train No. 20, but no serious injuries. Conductor and Flagman suffered minor bruises and soreness. Accident was cause by SAL 7334 becoming detached from other cars being handled by switch engines 902 and 159, at 45th Street Dray Track, North Columbus. Switch Engine Foreman and Switchman were dismissed. Damage to equipment was $137,000.00. (Condensed from CofGa Monthly Report, March 1962).

Train No. 20 was the Man o' War, running daily between Atlanta and Columbus. Apparently, the Fort McPherson (one of two Budd coaches on the Man o' War) was the rear car on Train No. 20 that day. The wreck caused the vestibule end to bend inward and the roof was severely damaged. Instead of replacing the damaged roof with a Budd-style corrugated roof, it was replaced with flat, smooth sheet metal. This made the roof look like a Pullman Standard roof.

One of our members (whose father was Supt. of Motive Power and Equipment at that time) has several photographs of that wreck. If you are interested in copies, please contact me via private e-mail and I'll see what we can work out.

Allen Tuten

-- Allen Tuten (allen@cofg.org), July 29, 2002.

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